Simply put, baptism is a rite of passage that includes the ceremonial immersion in or sprinkling of water. Yet, that simple definition does not explain much about baptism as it relates to our Christian faith, nor does it do it much justice. Yet, there is much to be understood about one of the most basic tenets of our Christian faith.
The Baptism Story
The most famous baptism story is of Jesus being baptized in the River Jordan by John as told in the New Testament by both Matthew (3:13-17), Mark (1:9-11) and Luke (3:21-22).
What Baptism Symbolizes
Most significantly, baptism signifies the washing away of our sins. In some denominations baptisms involve the sprinkling of water,but in others one must become completely submerged and then emerge from the water.
There are some denominations that do not believe baptism is a symbol, but instead it is an actual act of cleansing from sin and a regeneration. Some denominations believe that a person cannot go to Heaven unless he/she is baptized. There also continues to be a debate over infant baptisms, as some believe it is now the substitute for circumcision in entering the covenant with God, while others believe baptism must be a personal choice when one makes the choice to be saved by Jesus.
The Importance of Baptism
There are a number of reasons to consider being baptized:
- Obedience: Jesus commanded we be baptized and help those around us be baptized in Matthew 28:18-20. This is the scripture where He reveals that we must not only obey Him, but teach others to obey Him.
- Sharing in Jesus' life and death: In Romans 6:3-5 we are told that, by being baptized, we not only share in the life of Jesus, but we share in His death. It means that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we shall share in the Resurrection and be free from sin.
- Release of our sins: One of the most beautiful reasons for baptism is outlined in Acts 2:38. Whether you believe in infant baptism or the choice made as an adult, the act of baptism helps us wash away our sins and receive the Holy Spirit. The act itself can be freeing and help us on the path of righteousness.